PROJECT PROFILE: Solstice Initiative (SEEDS2-SES)

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Project Name: Data-Driven Understanding of Low- to Moderate-Income Customers’ Adoption and Financial Qualification in Community Solar
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 2 – State Energy Strategies (SEEDS2-SES)
SunShot Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: Boston, MA
SunShot Award Amount: $816,090
Awardee Cost Share: N/A

This project gathers customer data to assess the assumption that metrics other than a traditional FICO score can and should be used to qualify customers for community solar. Using customer data on income, FICO score, and utility, rent, and cell phone repayment history, the project tests whether new qualifying metrics open up the community solar market to additional households. This new model is then tested by enrolling customers in community solar and comparing actual payment. This project identifies and tests better ways to finance and perform due diligence on solar purchases for nontraditional adopters.

APPROACH

The project team analyzes existing utility and credit reporting agency data to identify a more appropriate blend of metrics to qualify prospective community solar customers. They then test new qualification metrics through pilot projects specifically targeted at low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers.

INNOVATION

This project challenges the assumption that LMI households present any additional risk for community solar. Implementing a new qualification metric will result in a market-based solution to LMI inclusion in community solar, preventing a credit score from standing in between a person and their decision to use solar energy.